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Name: WO1 John W. Cook
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 02/19/1968 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Died 10 days later on 02/29/1968.
Age at death: 21.2
Date of Birth: 12/13/1946
Home City: Long Beach, CA
Service: AV branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: 57 AHC
Major organization: 1st Aviation Brigade
Flight class: 67-17
Service: AV branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 42E-003
Short Summary: Shot down by B-40 or RPG. Pulled out by SF SGT Zabitosky. Died in Japan later of burns. CPT R. Griffin AC. 1st 57 AHC pilot KIA
Aircraft: UH-1D tail number 66-16282
Service number: W3157737
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 062B = Helicopter Pilot, Utility and Light Cargo Single Rotor
Primary cause: B-40 or RPG
Compliment cause: fire or burns
Started Tour: 11/13/1967
"Official" listing: ground casualty
Location: Pleiku Province II Corps.
Military grid coordinates of event: YB665498

Additional information about this casualty:
Johnny's Dad had told me pretty much all that was known, and I've since talked with (then) Capt. Griffin. Johnny (his Mom and Dad always called him that) was a truly remarkable young man. He, David Fraser and I were best buddies since junior high school. The three of us were inseparable until my family moved to the San Diego area just before my senior year. I visited Johnny and Dave in Long Beach whenever I could and they came down to San Diego when they could. In fact, it was down here that I introduced him to a girl I was dating and the next thing I knew, they were dating each other! That didn't make me angry at all, since the girl and I were really just "good friends" and they were so happy together that I was naturally glad for them both. Johnny rode his motorcycle down from Long Beach every chance he got, sometimes for just a few hours' stay. I haven't mentioned the girl's name because she broke up with him after two years when the boys in her high school began to notice her, and... Not long after, Johnny decided to join the Army and head to flight school. Dave signed up with him on the buddy system then in effect. I was away at college at the time, and it was too late for me to catch up with them. When I next saw Johnny it was just after he'd graduated from flight school and was on leave just before shipping over to Vietnam. I decided to enlist and follow the same path he and Dave had, but the recruiter told me I was likely to be drafted soon and my papers couldn't be processed in time for WOC school -- the draft would take precedence. So I enlisted for 67N20 school and that's how I ended up wearing enlisted crew wings while Johnny and Dave were wearing pilot wings. I was still at Ft. Rucker when word came that he had been shot down. Then a few days later a chaplain came to tell me the bad news. I had no idea why I was being called to the orderly room, but when they opened the door to an inner office and I saw a chaplain was waiting to see me, my heart turned to stone and sank to the pit of my stomach. No words were necessary, and I think the chaplain dreaded speaking them as much as I dreaded hearing them. The Army allowed me leave to go to Arlington for the funeral. Johnny's Dad met me at the airport. We had two days together there for the funeral and some time to talk before I had to return to Ft. Rucker. Johnny is buried just a little down the hill and to one side from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You can hear the sound of marching feet and the clack of the rifles being handled at the changing of the guard. When I visited Arlington a few years ago with my family I learned that there are some twenty-two other John Cooks buried there. One of them won the Medal of Honor in the Civil War. We saw his headstone when we took a wrong turn going to Johnny's gravesite. The name "John Cook" has been shared by a lot of good men down through the years, including Johnny's Dad. John Cook, Sr. still holds the world's endurance flight record (fixed wing) jointly with Bob Timm. They set the record back in 1954 (I think). Their airplane is now on display at McCarran airport near Las Vegas where they set the record. Johnny was always so proud of his dad in every way and loved telling the story of how they did it. I didn't mean to go on so long like this. I started out just wanting to say "Thank You" for your help, and all the rest of this just came gushing out. Instinct tells me you are one who will understand what I've never been able to explain to someone who wasn't there. Thanks for your patience in reading all this. If you'll indulge me just a little longer, I want to include a tribute I wrote for Johnny a few years ago inspired by an essay written about "Best Friends and Bookmarks." You've probably seen it in a book written about The Wall. The idea is to write a tribute to our best friend brief enough to go on a book mark suitable for books about Vietnam. What I wrote for my bookmark appears below. Sincerely, Bob Gladson John W.W. Cook Warrant Officer helicopter pilot born December 13, 1946 wounded February 19, 1968 died of wounds February 29, 1968 Panel 42E, Line 003 Born in Blythe, California, he grew up in Long Beach, California. He was much loved by his family and friends. He made new friends wherever he went. He never let his friends down in any way, he would never have forgotten us, nor will he be forgotten. Each of us lucky enough to be his friend considered him to be our best friend, and he was. He never spoke an unkind or disrespectful word about his parents or friends -- a truly remarkable young man.

Reason: burns
Casualty type: Hostile - died of wounds
single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Protestant - no denominational preference
The following information secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: warrant officer
This record was last updated on 09/30/2001

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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